I needed to get happy. I needed to hone a new skill and to do something for myself -- while still creating value. Within days, I filled out a financial aid form and enrolled in culinary school. Fast forward one year and though I've graduated, I'm figuring out my next steps. Now what?Read More
I have lots of friends who lament about their cooking abilities. "All I can make is eggs," they say, ashamedly. But cooking eggs is a lot harder than most people realize. Let's take a closer look at eggs, why we eat them and what the heck the difference is between brown and white ones.Read More
Tuna tartare is one of those things that literally makes my mouth water upon thinking of it, and I never feel guilty about stuffing my face silly with the stuff. I like it with a little extra kick so I use prepared horseradish or at least a squirt of Sriracha.Read More
I was craving this sandwich every day of the week. After one or two queries, an heirloom tomato and a handful of garlic later, I had my recipe. This Portobello mushroom burger is super juicy and oddly enough, feels really meaty. And yes, friends, you can make this too.Read More
This Chinese shrimp dish has everything I always look for in an entree: it's crispy, salty, juicy and spicy. And -- I'm very proud to say -- I prefer this recipe over most Chinese restaurants' dishes. The addition of Szechuan peppercorns sends it over-the-top mouthwateringly-spicy.Read More
Recently, I had the most difficult final during my time at Le Cordon Bleu in which I had to make an amuse bouche, appetizer, and entree. So I went with a Peruvian-inspired dish: citrus-marinated grilled chicken with a side of cilantro rice and tostones, or twice-fried green plantains.Read More
I'm always on the lookout for party food recipes, and it's an added bonus when the leftovers can be used for meals for the rest of the week. This tilapia ceviche is one of those dishes: your guests will eat bowls of it, and if you have any left over, you'll be blessed with a healthy, protein and vegetable-rich treat. It is, after all, made with fresh fish, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers and cilantro. Savory and juicy, this ceviche is a substantial yet refreshing appetizer. I like the Marcela Valladolid recipe -- it's easy to follow and isn't too juicy. I've just simplified it even further.
Serves: 8 Prep time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: 2 pounds tilapia fillets (about 8 fillets), cut into small cubes 1 cup lime juice (from about 10 limes, or buy lime juice) 3 tomatoes, small cubed 1 cucumber, small cubed 1/2 medium-sized red onion, small cubed 1 green bell pepper, small cubed 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (about 1/3 of a bunch), finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 serrano chile, finely chopped (optional) 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced or cubed Tortilla chips (for serving, optional)
1. In a medium bowl, pour the lime juice over the cubed tilapia and mix gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white and opaque, about 1 hour. (Or, you can start this recipe a day before, and leave this overnight.)
2. Remove fish from the refrigerator and drain the lime juice. Discard the juice. Mix in the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in the chile, if using. If desired, mixed in the cubed avocado. Or, garnish the top with avocado slices.
3. Serve with tortilla chips or corn tostada.
My Notes What I did differently: Rather than measuring out the quantity of each vegetable, I figured it was easier to go with actual vegetables quantities. It doesn't need to be precise, and it's easy to grab and chop 3 tomatoes rather than measure our an exact cup or half-cup. I also added green bell peppers -- the added crunch and color makes it a perfect addition.
Aren't you supposed to cook fish?! Technically, by immersing the fish in lime juice, you are cooking it. More specifically, you're denaturing the proteins. So don't worry -- this tilapia is cooked thoroughly. Just make sure before adding the vegetables and seasonings that it's opaque and white all over.
When I first heard about flaxseed I thought the same thing I normally do about healthy food -- "yeah, yeah, it's good for you. But does it taste good?" And so, I shied away from it for some time before finally trying it out. As it turns out, this seedy super food can either be tasty... or can go virtually unnoticed in your dishes. If you're wary about flax seeds, try sneaking them into some of your already-existing recipes. I like to blend it smooth in my daily breakfast green smoothie, and I like adding it to baked recipes, like banana bread and dark chocolate biscotti. But first, you may wonder, what's so healthy about flaxseed? WebMD breaks it down:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These "good fats" are good for your heart. 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
- Fiber: It offers both the soluble and insoluble types, so it's good for digestive health.
- Antioxidants: The seeds contain lignans, which have estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Lignans help fight free radicals, which can damage tissue.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, adding flaxseed to your food gives it an added texture. So what else can you add it to? Try these:
- Breakfast: Add a tablespoon of ground (or whole) flaxseed to your morning cereal or to yogurt.
- Lunch: Add a teaspoon of it to your sandwich spread, like mayonnaise or mustard.
- Baked goods: Add two tablespoons to any bread or muffin recipe. Aside form texture, the flaxseeds add an extra richness or thickness to your finished treat.
Flaxseed photo by Flickr user Alisha Vargas.
I'll admit it: I'm lazy. Although I try to be mindful to give ingredients the time and respect they deserve, I also try to cut corners whenever possible. This means blanching all my veggies in one pot -- regardless of color (and yes, I've blanched a whole beet, potatoes and peas all in one pot and had no trouble at all), and periodically reaching for the can of crushed garlic in my refrigerator (but don't tell anyone that shameful secret!). So I figured it only makes sense that I'd "cheat" my way through a potato chip recipe. Ordinarily, one would fry these in a big pot, but I try to bake rather than fry whenever possible. Usually, you can just leave the food in the oven and forget about it temporarily. Plus, it's healthier. When making potato chips, you have to slice the potatoes very thinly, about 1/8 of an inch. You may be able to do this with your trusty chef's knife, but I prefer to use a mandoline. It's much faster and more accurate. Just be careful you don't shave your fingers!
Serves: 4 Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients: 2 large Russet potatoes 3 tablespoons olive oil kosher salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash and scrub the potato. Leaving the skin on, slice into 1/8" rounds.
3. Soak the slices in a bowl of water for a few minutes to rinse some of the starches off. Dry with paper towels.
4. In a clean bowl, toss the potato slices in olive oil. Arrange in one layer on a silicon baking sheet mounted on a sheet pan.
5. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt again.
My Notes: Can I use additional seasonings? Of course! Be creative! When the chips are done baking, try sprinkling some cayenne pepper (for a spicy kick) or grating some Parmesan cheese over the top (because who doesn't love cheese?).
We all have that go-to meal, that must-order at restaurants. Some people order a burger wherever they go. Others might rely on a juicy rib-eye steak. For me? It's braised short ribs. Whenever I see this on a menu, it's precisely what I order. How can you not want succulent meat that literally falls off the bone when you poke it with your fork? And that delicious pan gravy? Heaven.
The other day I was craving this dish and for the first time, decided to make it myself. A few Google searches and six recipes later, I settled on the recipes I was going to work off of - Wolfgang Puck's and Anne Burrell's.
Typically in French cooking, carrots, onion and celery are used for seasoning sauces. Once the cooking process is done, they're discarded and the sauce is strained (as is the process with Puck's recipe). I've always taken issue with this; sure, I like smooth sauce, but I feel tossing out the veggies is a waste of food. So I kept them in my recipe and decided to call it "country-style." Bon Apetit!
Serves: About 6 Prep time: 20-25 minutes Cook time: 3-3.5 hours
- 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (a $6 bottle will be fine)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 pounds short ribs, trimmed
- Black pepper
- 6 shallots, medium dice (or 1/2 large brown onion, medium dice)
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 quart unsalted beef stock
- 2 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional, for thickening sauce)
- 2 tablespoons water
1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to simmer until it cooks down by 1/2. Remove from heat.
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot - large enough to hold all the ribs - over medium-high heat. Generously season the ribs all over with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, sear the ribs on each side until well-browned, about 3-4 minutes.
4. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate. Lower the heat to medium, and toss in the shallots, carrots and celery. Brown the vegetables lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, about 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the reduced wine to the vegetables, scraping the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add the ribs back to the pot, then add the thyme and bay leaves. Cover with beef stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; tightly cover the pot with foil, and place into the oven to braise for 2 hours.
6. Taste the braising liquid and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Move the ribs around. Add the potatoes to the pot. Cover with foil again, and place back into the oven for 40 minutes, or until the ribs are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork.
7. Remove the thyme and bay leaves. Check the consistency of the sauce. If you like it as is, let the meat rest in the pot for 10 minutes before serving. But if you'd like a thicker, gravy-like consistency: In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture looks like milk. Pour into the pot of sauce/ribs, over medium heat. Stir well until sauce is thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
More tomato paste: After some thought and a trip to the grocery, I ended up adding more tomato paste than Wolfgang Puck's recipe calls for, and less than Anne Burrell's. I thought Burrell's recipe called for too much -- I didn't want braised tomato ribs. On the other hand, the smallest quantity of tomato paste available at the grocery was a 6-ounce can. For the sake of simplicity, I used the whole thing. The tomato flavor was present but not overwhelming.
More substantial with potatoes: I wanted my dish to be a balanced full meal. Typically, braised short ribs would be served with mashed potatoes, but I wanted to combine textures of melt-in-your-mouth meat with soft, chunky potatoes.
Why is this sauce chunky? Traditional French cuisine would see the carrots, shallots and celery being discarded. And because I wanted a well-balanced, hearty dish, I left mine in. If you wanted to make this dish more traditionally, you can discard them and strain your sauce before ladling onto the meat.
What other kinds of wine can I use? Dry! I like cooking with Cabernet Sauvignon -- it's strong, dry and my favorite kind of wine. (I always pour out a few ounces to sip on while I cook!) But don't go out of your way to get an expensive bottle. A $6 bottle will do just fine. You can also use Burgundy wine. Merlot and Syrah might work, but often, these wines are too mellow for a sauce like this.
Having a healthy breakfast is easier said than done. Let's face it: having a whole grain English muffin every morning quickly becomes a drag. Instead, try this sweet and tart breakfast smoothie. Inspired by Naked Juice's Green Machine, these Vitamix recipes, and a girlfriend of mine who makes her own variation of the drink, it has fruit and veggies, and doesn't taste nearly as strange as it may look. In fact, it tastes like apples and bananas with a citrus kick. Make a batch of four at a time, and store the leftover drink in your freezer. Thaw under refrigeration overnight for a ready-to-go breakfast that's well under 200 calories.
Serves: 2 (about 16 ounces) Prep time: About 5 minutes
Ingredients: 1 orange OR 2 clementines 1 Granny Smith apple 1 banana 1 cup kale (about 1.5 stalks) 3/4 cup water 1/2 cup ice (optional)
1. Prepare your fruit and vegetables: Peel the orange (or clementines), apple and banana. Core the apple. Roughly break up the fruits into segments (to make blending easier). Rip kale leaves off stalks. Add to blender. Add water and ice.
2. Blend on high until mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
My Notes: What if I don't add ice? I actually don't add ice to my smoothie. I start with cold fruit and kale, having stored it in the refrigerator, and I end up with a cool-to-room-temperature drink. I prefer it this way because it makes it easier to gulp down, which is important if you're on the go.
Why kale? Kale is an underrated vegetable. It's really high in vitamins K, A and C, and is a good source of fiber, calcium and potassium. Plus, it contains sulforaphane, which is known to be a strong cancer-fighting ingredient.
Why Granny Smith apples? Eaten alone, kale has a strong, bitter taste. The bright tartness of the green apples tones down the bitterness, resulting in smooth, clean flavor.